INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — In a race that saw a record number of leaders, it was Takuma Sato that made the most important pass of his career when it mattered most.
Sato got by three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves with five laps to go and held on to win his first Indianapolis 500 Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Rookie Ed Jones finished third.
Castroneves, looking for a record-tying fourth Indy 500 win, took the lead with six laps to go from Max Chilton. The pass brought the hundreds of thousands of fans in attendance to their feet, but Sato was right there as well and passed Castroneves on the next lap.
Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500. It’s his second career IndyCar win.
The win was the second straight Indy 500 victory for Andretti Autosport and the team’s third Indy win in the last four years (Alexander Rossi 2016, Ryan Hunter-Reay 2014.)
It was a race that featured a bit of everything, including several blown engines and a scary crash involving pole-sitter Scott Dixon. Jay Howard hit the outside wall on lap 53 and came back down the track, collecting Dixon. The contact sent Dixon’s car airborne and caused it to land on top of the retaining wall and in the catch fence, shredding the car. Fortunately Dixon was able to walk away from the crash.
In addition to a handful of accidents, blown Honda engines also took out several contenders. Ryan Hunter-Reay’s day came to an end when his engine cut loose on lap 137. Hunter-Reay had led the most laps in the race up to that point. On lap 167, Charlie Kimball lost his engine.
One of the most intriguing storylines all month was the performance of two-time Formula One champ Fernando Alonso running in his first Indy 500. Alonso started 5th and led 27 laps on the day, but he too was knocked out when his Honda engine blew with 20 laps remaining.
Max Chilton led 50 laps, the most of any driver and came home fourth.